Saint Mary's Church

Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk

Restoration

Cost so far: £333,368

The East Window: When the old window was removed and sold, (the present window is a copy taken from an old photo) the lintel was found to be an off cut from a pine tree that had simply been cut in quarters length ways and which still had the bark on. During this the two internal pillars were damaged and also had to be repaired. This took place during 2002. It was replaced with lead quarries, outlined with ruby red glass.

The Chancel Steps were smashed as a consequence of satanic worshipers who broke into the tomb of the Reverend Robert Say which lies in front of the alter. Bones, his skull and long bones were removed, presumably for their evil rituals.

The South Door which has been blocked up since the Victorian times with an unsightly solid style brick work has now been opened up. The door that had remained in place appears to be 15th century and boasts a set of very stout hinges that run right across it. The actual doorway through the wall is square in section and has several planks of ancient oak, which form a lintel across the wall in typical 15th century architectural style. What is of particular interest of this door way is the pointed outer stone arch, which was taken from the south aisle when it was demolished around 1400 and reused here.

Tower and Nave: The temporary partition that had been erected was removed after this was done it gave the appearance of being much larger.

Nave Floor: The whole of the nave floor has been excavated right down to the 10th century level. It was during this project that a piece of stonework was uncovered and it was soon identified as a missing piece of the font stem. It must have lain there buried in the centre of the floor for some time, as it was in much better state then the rest of the font stem. Bob always suspected that the font was a little on the short side and this find confirmed his suspicion. Where it was buried and for what reason one can only surmise. During this excavation it was also discovered that the 18th century tombs being typical 18th century as being constructed as barrel tombs. (Underneath these lay even older family tombs) which lay under the floor had also been broken into and very sadly a great majority of the human remains had been removed. As a result of the tombs being raided the slate ledger memorial stones that were lain over the tombs had also been smashed. These were salvaged and painstakingly pieced together by referring to the burial records, and placed in their former position. The destruction of these ancient tombs and removal of the bones seek only to act as a stark reminder of the 30 year period of activity by the Satanists. It took over 800 2" thick replica tiles to cover the nave and tower floor.

The original floor tiles were discovered to be on a kitchen floor in the village of Litcham.

The Roof was thatched until 1760. Then it was replaced in the 18th century style with reed mortar and pan tiles. The deep gables indicate the thickness of the original thatch. At some time the point of the east gable had collapsed destroying the chancel roof.

Guttering and down pipes: Although after the restoration of the roof the rain fell some way away from the walls of the church, the back splash causing the mortar to be washed away. Re-pointing soon rectified this. Whilst digging the drainage soak ways for the down pipes 17 bodies were discovered These have now been re-interned else where in the graveyard in a single grave marked with a simple wooden cross.

North Window was done in 2002, and was funded largely by a very generous donation from Mr Pakiri at South Pickenham Hall. The work was carried out by a skilled stonemason to match existing work dating from 13th Century. It was glazed with lead quarries, rectangular pieces of glass lined with lead, outlined with cobalt blue glass.

South Window and Small Window: Completed in 2003. There is evidence in this small window which suggests it may date back as early as 750/800 A.D.. The larger window is a replica of the original which in 1830 replaced a 15th century stone window, the arch of which is still in place, this has three panels edged with green glass.

Tower/Chapel and Bell: In 1916 the tower was very badly damaged by a bomb dropped by a damaged Zeplin, which was loosing gas and dumping everything out, it was most likely heading to Kings Lynn. You could only just pick your way up the steps, carefully one hastened to add. Much work had to be done to make it safe, the stairs had to be made safe, the floor replaced, the roof put on and the bell re-hung. This was completed in 1997. Originally there were two bells but one was sold in 1725 to Swaffham and hangs in The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The bell floor in the tower is now a small chapel, the upper room contains a solitary bell bearing the inscription on one side 1611 and on the other C & M Mears Founders London Recast 1857.

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